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Guns temporarily banned in state parks, forests

New regulations allow concealed carry with permit
December 29, 2017

Story Location:
Cape Henlopen State Park
Lewes  Delaware  19958
United States

In response to a state Supreme Court ruling ending a ban on possessing firearms while visiting state parks and forests, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Agriculture Department have issued interim regulations temporarily limiting firearms in state parks and forests.

In a joint executive order Dec. 27, DNREC Secretary Sean Garvin and DDA Secretary Michael Scuse cite state code allowing DNREC to make and enforce regulations relating to protection, care and use of the areas it administers as the source empowering the regulations.

The interim regulations prohibit firearms in certain public facilities and designated areas – including park offices, visitor centers, bathhouses, zoos, educational facilities, dormitories, group camping areas, swimming pools, guarded beaches, stadiums and water parks.

The regulations allow holders of valid Delaware concealed carry permits to carry within parks, including designated areas.

The regulations also allow active-duty law enforcement officers and qualified retired officers to carry anywhere within the parks and other areas affected by the Supreme Court decision.

The Administrative Procedures Act requires DNREC and the agriculture department to receive, consider, and respond to petitions by any interested person for the reconsideration or revision of the interim regulations.

A press release accompanying the executive order states that, by law, these interim regulations are effective for 120 days, which can be extended by an additional 60 days, for a total of 180 days.

“The interim regulations respect the state constitutional provisions on firearms cited by the Delaware Supreme Court in its Dec. 7 ruling, by implementing the state’s interest in ensuring public safety in a less restrictive manner,” reads the release.

The interim regulations are the latest in a legal battle that has now stretched out for years.

The original lawsuit, filed December 2015 by the Bridgeville Rifle & Pistol Club in Chancery Court, argued state regulations banning firearms in state parks and forests violate the Delaware Constitution and the right to bear arms. A few months later, in June 2016, the court denied a request to remove the gun ban and dismissed the case.

Shortly afterward, the complainants refiled the lawsuit in Superior Court, which again sided with state agencies in a December 2016 decision. The following month, January 2017, the complainants appealed to Delaware Supreme Court, which issued a ruling ending the firearm ban Dec. 7.